Thursday, July 16, 2009

Training Camp Preview - Part 4 - Wide Receivers

This is going to be one of the positions to watch in training camp. Roy Williams is the #1 receiver without a doubt, but things are up for grabs after that. Sam Hurd, Miles Austin, and Patrick Crayton are all going to be vying for the #2 role so it will be great competition between the three of them. The fifth receiver spot is also going to be a fight. Isaiah Stanback is probably fighting for a place on the team with Manuel Johnson. There will also be a couple of other guys like Julian Hawkins and Mike Jefferson trying to make the team. Injuries are going to play a major factor is how well this group can perform.

Roy Williams - This is beating a dead horse at this point, but I really would like to see Roy and Tony Romo firing on all cylinders. There were timing issues and injury problems for both players last year that hampered their ability to develop any chemistry but this offseason has provided the time needed for that. Roy has been working hard and has shed some weight so I am expecting him to look leaner and quicker. I hope they have worked together enough that Romo trusts Williams to get the ball in traffic because one of Roy's greatest assests is his ability to go up and make the tough, high catch in traffic.

Patrick Crayton - Crayton is the forgotten man in the offense. He has done nothing but produce consistent numbers from the #2 receiver position over the last few seasons, but this year is going to be different. Crayton may face more standard coverage schemes rather than the single man he usually had to beat while T.O. was here. I know some people have concerns about his hands due to one play in the playoff debacle two years ago, but he actually may have the best hands on the team. I want to see him finding ways to get himself open during training camp.

Miles Austin - This is the guy that the team seems to be expecting a breakout year from. The biggest factor is going to be health. Last year when Miles was healthy he looked like he had potential to be a very good receiver, but unfortunately, he seemed to be hurt more than he was healthy. The fact that he missed time during OTA's this summer doesn't fill me with confidence on the injury front. I want to see that he is operating at 100% and that he has a firm grasp of the entire offense since he has primarily played in spot duty during his first few years. He has the potential to win the #2 role, but he is going to have to pry it away from Patrick Crayton.

Sam Hurd - The injuries of last season made most people forget how good Sam Hurd was beginning to look. During the preseason last year Sam was starting to establish himself as a guy who found the open spot on the field and made the tough catches with defenders around him. If he is healthy then it will be hard to keep him off of the field during the season because he always seems to find a way to make plays when he gets the chance. Again, I'll be hoping to see him functioning at 100% in camp and continuing his improvement that he has shown over his first few seasons. I think it will be hard for Sam Hurd to win the #2 role due to his lack of speed, but if he makes enough plays he might steal the job from Crayton and Austin.

Fifth/Sixth(?) Receiver - In my mind this is the last chance that Isaiah Stanback gets to show that he can actually remain healthy long enough to get a real shot on the field. He has amazing athletic ability but it has gone to waste for two years because he seems to be continually injured. Manuel Johnson looks like a quick, little guy who could win a roster spot due to his ability to get open on short routes from the slot position. He'll have to show that he can make plays on special teams as well if he wants to make the team. The rest of the receivers hoping to make the team are going to have to come out of no where and make the coaches notice them because they probably won't get too many legitimate chances to make plays during camp and preseason. There is still a chance that Jessie Holley from 4th & Long will be the 80th man so that could be interesting to watch if he can hang around for a few weeks. I would love to see Stanback on the field showing his athleticism but, at this point, I won't be at all surprised if he gets injured during the first few weeks of training camp.

The key for this group is going to be health. Two of the top four receivers have trouble staying on the field so there is going to be a serious problem if Hurd and/or Austin get hurt again this season. This group is full of potential but that can be a dirty word in the NFL. If several of these guys don't step up this year then the passing game is going to have serious problems moving the ball.

1 comment:

  1. This position is one of the biggest question marks to me. It's hard to know if Roy Williams can be that guy. It's also unknown how Austin and the rest of the young crew will do. Crayton seems to be solid, but what if he has a bad year? I think the talent of the wr's really doesn't matter though. Tony Romo is that good in my opinion. It all rests on the shoulders of Romo. I believe that he can make these recievers look like hall of famers.